Posts Tagged ‘sessions’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s a training day.  What this means for us is it’s a cleaning day on the pod and there are no ERP group sessions.  We’d been told by our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey that this would be a different kind of cleaning day in that it would be a more extensive cleaning than we’d been accustomed but that didn’t appear to be the case.  I never enjoy days like this but mostly because of my own personality I dislike chaos and disorganization, and while the process to get the cleanup done fits that description, the work does get done.  It was a little different for me this time being a swamper.  At the end of the cleanup, fellow swamper David Sussex and I had to move all the tables and chairs out of the dayroom, turning the tables on the side to clean out hidden treasures from underneath in the rail of the table such as butter and ketchup packets, stored there by inmates so they can have extras at a meal of their choice.  To be honest, its an unpleasant task as often the packets have been crushed and are messy.  After this was done, we mop the entire floor and sweep.  We still get in each others way but it’s a work in progress that will get solved as we get familiar with the job and each other.  Once we were done we had to move the tables back to where they were.  The former swamper that is working with cellie Brian Whalen to go back into the business of dealing drugs decided to direct Sussex and I where to put the tables.  That was fine until he decided he was going to have fun with it.  I have little tolerance for the former swamper to begin with much less any desire to fool around while working.  I’m kind of the type to get focused on a task.  So, I walked away when Sussex continued to play with him.  Someone came over and helped Sussex.  He’d tell me later he was just wanting to goof around.  I suppose I get it.  They’re both about 10 years younger than me and the way they work is different than mine.  And lets face it, it’s not like the fate of the free world rests on my performance so I could lighten up.  Once done, we returned to our cells for the day supposedly to work on ERP program materials.  That was no problem for cellie Larry Sands and I as we had a ton of stuff to do.  By Friday we had to have our Phase III Goals and Objectives done, the Living With Others Workbook done – all 61 pages and we’re supposed to be working on our legacy project for the graduation.  I managed to finish the workbook but not doing a very thorough job in the process.  I wrote up my Phase III goals as improving social skills and working on patience.  Because the goals are to be presented by Friday May 13th, I chose the Bible as my basis for study on patience, as there’s no time to find and read a book of any value on the subject and to write an essay on it.  For improving social skills, I’m writing an essay on the positives and negative things I’ve learned about myself working as the swamper.  Just a lot of time constraints.  At lunch and supper, Sussex continues to have real problems counting trays.  But more importantly, we had another guard who rarely works on our unit.  He let me know right away there would be no extra food given to swampers when he works.  I was fine with that as I rarely eat the extra stuff anyway.  But it told me this wasn’t going to go well.  At 6 pm after supper he wouldn’t let us come out of our rooms as every other floor is locked down on training day.  But he didn’t know the program floors like ours were exempted.  So 7 to 8 inmates were down at his desk arguing the point with him.  Finally a white shirt (supervisor) let him now.  But by the time cleanup began, barely anyone was in the dayroom which was funny considering all the fuss that was made.  It came time to take out the trash.  I asked the guard to open the door but he ignored me for 10 minutes, while chatting with another guard.  I just left it and went to go get ready for 9:15 am count.  Yes, I still need to work on patience?  After count, I read emails you all send to the sponsors for me.  One reader, who has corresponded in the past, compared reading this blog to an episode of Real Housewives.  I get that!  But more importantly, it gave me a real good laugh prior to going to sleep.  So thank you!

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I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As usual Wednesday there are no ERP group sessions so very little happens.  An interesting dynamic has grown between cellies Brian Whalen and Larry Sands.  As was noted previously, Sands likes to tell stories about his sexual conquests and I also mentioned I tune them out.  Well now these two sit there and tell stories to each other.  Whalen as always is trying to tell stories that keep pace with the ones Sands tells.  But Sands busts him as his stories are inconsistent or he confuses details from earlier stories.  At night I put on my headphones as I see this activity as childish and annoying but because during the day no electronics are allowed, I’m forced to hear what’s being said.  But quite frankly, this is nothing in comparison to what it used to be like when Andre Charles was still here.  That night someone actually showed up from the outside world for a Bible study which we haven’t had in awhile.  There are no religious services on Sundays and AA or NA meetings are rarely held.  But as I grabbed my Bible to go and sign out guard Ruth Barthowski let me know no one else was going and it would likely be cancelled.  It’s certainly different than the religion at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) where people from the outside world were constantly coming in and social interaction available it influences their desire to attend a bit.  The next day our ERP group began with the now voluntary breathing exercises, followed by videos on marijuana.  The first two were Hazelden produced entitled The Escape To Nowhere and Lifeline To Recovery.  They focused on the problems that can occur in your life with the abuse of this drug.  The afternoon session was all about another video, Marijuana In The Nineties featuring Dr. David Ohlms.  Yes I know, it’s 2011.  But much of what was said is still true I suppose.  Finishing up the time in the afternoon, our ERP group leader Ms. Grey reviewed my Phase II goals and objectives which I’ll be telling you about soon once they’re approved.  We spent 40 minutes of group time on it with Ms. Grey or I not communicating effectively to each other.  At 3 pm on Thursday it was time for the Community Meeting, which of course our group was later than everyone else as usual.  It started out with the intervention in the incident in the bathroom that ERP group member Scott Dietz had with another inmate.  They had to do a skit re-enacting the scene and write papers on what they learned about each other.  It was painful to watch and listen too as each had been spewing venom about the other since the incident.  But we congratulated them on doing it.  Because a new ERP group started we had to go around and introduce ourselves with name, phase of program, offense we were there for and our hobbies.  Just like they did when we started.  Because of all this it was the longest community meeting I’d seen up to this point.  I was pretty antsy at that point.  I’m generally antsy these days but that’s because I see the light at the end of the tunnel I think.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). I haven’t written in about a week because I wanted to focus on getting my autobiography done.  Yes, it’s done.  Thirty pages it took and I was extremely detailed particularly in my early life not just the broad strokes I gave you.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of strange looks and treatment from some group members but I feel its important I be honest.  To get you caught up on what is going on, we lost the dryer on our unit for several das.  We had to use the washer for our clothes and then hang them in our cells, from the bunks, TV stands and such making the cell block look like a homeless camp with the smell of mildew in the air.  Those that work out a lot had the worst of the situation.  I had an interesting encounter.  I had my laundry bag lined up in order to get washed.  But the swampers in cahoots with my neighboring cell pushed their bags in front of min, claiming that 2nd shift guard Ruth Bartowski had told them to do so and she was going to take these folks over to the other cell bock where there was a working dryer which in fact she did.  Why Bartowski did this is unknown to me.  The fact all those guys were black and led some to conclude they felt they could do this to me (step in front of me) was because “I wasn’t tan enough.  The only problem with that is Bartowski is white.  But as I’ve said, this place is far more open about racial prejudice than anywhere I’ve been.  But I’m 20 weeks from release.  No way I screw it up over something like this.  In my ERP group, I got jumped on by group members Larry Sands and Scott Dietz for wanting “to fix people” especially in regards to my conflicts I’ve had with Andre Charles.  It is true people find me easy to talk to and some say, including Andre, think I help them.  I wish I knew a way to make it my life’s work.  But its clear to me that they have no idea what it is like to live with him.  By the time it was over, Sands and I were yelling at each other.  Russ Johnson, who has taken his turn as group leader and is experienced at treatment says this is typical of treatment group sessions.  They did ask me one important question.  Where did this need to fix people come from?  Was it because I couldn’t save my biological mother or even my biological father or others who suffered?  The other accusation was I manipulate people by helping them to my viewpoint or desired action.  I suppose to a degree it’s true.  Ms. Grey, ERP Group Coordinator, handed out a track called “King Baby” by Hazelden that seems to point to that (it’s an excellent read by the way) along with many other personality types.  But its something to consider.  We finished up through Chapter 8 of “Houses of Healing” book and read letters we wrote to our inner child.  In general they were, including mine, well pretty general.  But that’s ok.  We also watched a movie called “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington that was quite good.  Everyone in my cell is getting along.  Nothing has changed on where I’m going when I get out.  I still don’t know.  But I got an interesting letter.  My sponsors monitor my email and relatives of my biological father have made contact.  I had had out feelers for years on ancestry.com and they finally found them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  It’s not as simple an answer as you might think.